Colorado Rights Blog


  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

ACLU of Colorado to Honor John Parvensky, Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, and Gail Johnson as 2016 Civil Rights Award Recipients

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado is pleased to announce that John Parvensky, Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, and Gail Johnson will receive our 2016 Civil Rights Awards, which will be presented at the Bill of Rights Dinner on Thursday, October 13th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver.

John Parvensky will receive the Carle Whitehead Memorial Award in recognition of his lifetime of accomplishments working as an advocate for the rights and needs of people experiencing homelessness. Parvensky has served as President of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless since 1986, directing programs that deliver supportive housing together with integrated healthcare, mental healthcare, and substance treatment services to 15,000 homeless, men, women, and children each year. He spearheaded the production of 16 integrated housing developments that combine high-quality housing for homeless individuals and families with affordable units for community residents with lower incomes, resulting in homes for 2,300 households. He serves as President of the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for the Homeless and as a member of Denver’s Commission to End Homelessness.

“One of the toughest challenges facing Colorado is meeting the basic needs of the most vulnerable among us and ensuring that they are connected to housing and services, not funneled into courts and jails,” said ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley.  “John Parvensky has been working tirelessly for more than 30 years to find innovative, collaborative solutions to that challenge, and we are thrilled to recognize his many successes and accomplishments.”

Senator Jessie Ulibarri will receive the Ralph Carr Award recognizing his leadership and dedication as a community organizer and a legislator advocating for social justice, voting rights, LGBT rights, and racial equality. As a state senator, he has successfully authored and passed into law 39 pieces of legislation, including protecting the rights of workers, expanding access to affordable housing, safeguarding civil liberties, and ensuring full access to the ballot box. He will be leaving the state legislature after this term. Prior to joining the State Senate, Ulibarri spent a decade leading community organizing and public policy efforts, including as the Public Policy Director at the ACLU of Colorado and State Director at Mi Familia Vota.

“Senator Ulibarri is one of the strongest, most passionate civil libertarians in the Colorado legislature,” said ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes. “His voice and presence will be missed at the Capitol, but we proudly recognize his substantial impact and know that he will continue fighting on for the rights of all Coloradans.”

Gail Johnson will receive the Edward Sherman Award in recognition of her work on behalf of prisoners’ rights and justice for people who are wrongly accused and incarcerated. Johnson is the managing partner of Johnson, Brennan & Klein in Boulder. She has two decades of experience representing clients in criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts. In three actual-innocence cases, she obtained orders for new trials for clients based on constitutional violations and newly discovered evidence. She is a member of the Criminal Justice Act panels for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

“Gail Johnson’s distinguished career is marked by numerous victories in the courtroom for defendants who are wrongly accused, prisoners who are unjustly convicted, and inmates who are abused and mistreated,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “We are proud to honor her significant contributions to the pursuit of a more just and fair criminal justice system in Colorado.”

The Bill of Rights Dinner will feature a keynote presentation from Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project.  The ACLU of Colorado would also like to recognize and thank our Circle of Liberty Sponsors Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP.

For more information about the event, purchasing tickets, or becoming a sponsor, please contact Rachel Pryor-Lease at 720-402-3105 or

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